Remember when 30 was ancient? I do. When I was a teenager, 30 was an inconceivable number, one I associated with the most boring stages of life. Now that I’m nearing 40, I’m off the map. I had no idea what this coming decade would look like- and to be honest I’m not sure I do now. I’m an explorer and a cartographer for my own life, and it’s exciting!
But as I move through my day and talk with others, I keep hearing this same story echoed and it’s making me sad. It seems like women in their 40’s have given up, are waiting it out or are totally complacent in their lives.
Here’s a sample conversation:
Her: I don’t really like my job and what I do everyday. It’s boring and the people are pretty negative, but I just have to wait 10 years longer so that I can retire.
Me: JUST 10 more years?!?! That’s a long time!
Her: it’s okay, it will go fast.
OK WAIT. It will go FAST? Are we telling ourselves that the next DECADE of our lives doesn’t matter because it’s just a waiting game and it’s worth it because freedom is right around the corner?
I can’t swallow it, I just can’t. You’re right to assume that I don’t have a pension or a career job that I have invested in, but I think this has given me the freedom to view the world from another angle. Time is more than money, it HAS to be. If we are here to earn and spend and save, I think I’m in the wrong place.
I want to thrive in my next 10 years. I want to learn, grow, explore, help others, make memories. I want to create and inspire, to love hard and honour myself through my actions. I want to nurture myself and my family- I don’t want it to “go fast.”
In 10 years, my daughters will be nearing their 20’s, which means that this decade might be my last chance to show them that you CAN live with passion, dream big and reach high. I can show them that it’s okay to fail and fall flat on your face, change direction and take risks. That life is not always easy, but you need to LIVE IT. I’m not sure that I can teach those things while simply “passing time” in my own life.
I get it though, I get that the idea of security into retirement is reassuring. I know that I should feel like this matters more right now.
Waiting out a pension is responsible and completely reasonable. It’s what your supposed to do. But what if the costs are too high? If we could assess the value of a decade using another index that places value on mental and physical health, happiness and fulfillment- would it still be worth it? What is a decade worth?
I appreciate that working is not optional. We have to make money to live. But if you’re in a solid job that you don’t find rewarding, just waiting for a decade to pass, don’t you owe it to yourself to at least entertain the possibility of spending your time differently? Or is the finish line too close and the cash prize too great?
What could you do if you didn’t finish the race?